Darren Long could never resist a challenge.
Well before he became creative director at the Post, he was
told as a young student in Europe that his skills as an
illustrator would never support a working life abroad.
So he went on to enjoy a highly successful career in the industry
spanning almost 30 years, mostly in Hong Kong.
Darren died in the early hours of November 26 after a fearless
battle with cancer. He was 54, a loving partner to wife Nisha and
devoted father to daughters Sarita, 17, and Anoushka, 14.
During his seven years as head of the illustration and graphics
team at the Post, among his many achievements, Darren
spearheaded a transition in visual storytelling from the print to
digital platforms. The team has collected 488 awards across four
continents under his stewardship.
Top: At Peñafiel Castle on his last
trip to Spain. Bottom left: Darren
listening to a lecture at Malofiej, the world infographics summit.
Bottom right: Darren at the SCMP
offices, in front of the infographic “A world of languages”.
“Darren was a real gem, an amazing group leader and team player,”
Post editor-in-chief Tammy Tam said. “I remember him as
being always cheerful and gentle, confident in his work and never
deterred by difficulties. Under his leadership, our graphics team
won so many international and local awards for the
Post that we lost count! He fought the good fight and
remained a champion throughout. I will miss him and remember him
fondly, as will the entire newsroom.”
Born in Britain, Darren was a keen rugby player and music lover,
but yearned to travel.
In an interview with the Society for News Design in 2017, on
becoming a regional director for the prestigious organisation, he
spoke of how he wanted to see the world before settling down to
get a masters’ degree.
After travelling in India and Southeast Asia, Darren landed in
Hong Kong in 1992, clutching a sketchbook of his experience. He
was offered a job as an illustrator with Asiaweek magazine
and never looked back
The illustrator soon switched roles to become an art director,
creating, launching and rejuvenating a wide variety of products,
including fashion magazines and trade journals. But his first love
At the Sopa Awards with colleagues Marcelo Duhalde and
Dennis Wong, celebrating one of the team’s countless
At an art and design conference for young people in Hong
Left: At the Sopa Awards with
colleagues Marcelo Duhalde and Dennis Wong, celebrating one of
the team’s countless awards.
Right: At an art and design
conference for young people in Hong Kong.
Darren initially joined the Post in 1995, as art director
for the company’s Asia Magazine, a weekend supplement for
eight newspapers in the region. He left just before Hong Kong’s
return to China in 1997 after being headhunted for a job in Kuala
Lumpur where he would help rebrand Malaysia Airlines’ inflight
He was back in the UK for the millennium, freelancing in London
for TV station Channel 4 and Associated Newspapers, among others.
But Darren could not be kept away from Hong Kong. He returned in
2002 and in the years that followed worked for Time,
oversaw the launch of luxury magazine Prestige Hong Kong,
and led art direction on financial publications at Haymarket
His ability to produce visually engaging and well-designed
products caught the eye of the Post which hired him to lead
its graphics and illustration team in 2014.
It proved to be a great choice. Darren led the team with passion
and devotion at a challenging time for the Post as it
accelerated its transition from traditional Hong Kong newspaper to
modern digital media organisation, with a fast-growing global
In 2018, with part of the graphics team in the offices of the
South China Morning Post.
The graphics team, a diverse group with different nationalities
and backgrounds, quickly acquired new skills and took its visual
storytelling to the next level with impressive interactive
Darren compared his role with that of an orchestra conductor
bringing talent together to produce a pleasing symphony. The
awards flooded in, securing an international reputation for the
Tributes were paid by international news organisations. Paige
Connor, Interim Executive Director of the Society for News Design
said Darren played a huge role in the visual journalism community
and would be greatly missed by many around the world. Joon-Nie
Lau, Director, Asia, WAN-IFRA, said Darren was a trailblazer in
the field of visual journalism.
Darren first met his wife Nisha in Hong Kong in 1994 when they
were both working for Asiaweek magazine. They lost touch
but bumped into each other again in London in March 2000. Two
years later they were married in Kerala, with more than 800 guests
attending. Nisha’s parents lived in Hong Kong. Her father was a
journalist and an inspiration for his son-in-law. Their daughters
were born in the city.
Music helped Darren form his view of the world. He fell in love
with the post-punk scene in Britain at the end of the 1970s,
listening to an eclectic mix of artists from the Sex Pistols and
The Jam to The Specials and The Style Council, along with Jamaican
bands. “Music was wonderful in those days,” he said. He also had a
taste for jazz and preferred vinyl records to digital streaming.
Darren in action on the rugby pitch, playing a sport he was
Rugby was another passion. Darren was a stalwart of the Causeway
Bay Rugby Club, joining in 2008 and playing mostly for the Marines
as a flanker. Club chairman Umesh Desai said he was “absolutely
devastated to have lost a legend” and that Darren would “remain in
our hearts forever”.
Adolfo Arranz, deputy creative director at the Post, said:
“Darren was the best boss and a close friend. He was a pillar of
this team, a bridge between editors and artists.”
Senior designer Marcelo Duhalde added that Darren’s leadership had
created a “golden age” for the graphics team.
Post executive editor Chow Chung-yan, who was instrumental
in bringing Darren back to the company in 2014, said: “His
warmness and brilliance have touched all of us. And in the rich
body of work he left behind, Darren will live on as legend at the
Number of awards won by the SCMP graphics team since Darren Long
became the department head
Creative Director Darren Long